This is the 25th in a series of blogs, using answers I provided to pass Mental Health qualifications.  This blog is the start of describing different types of depression, this being the second, about bipolar disorder

As with many mental health subjects, they can all be massive topics with reams of books written on them.  I will aim to break bipolar disorder down into 3 easy to read blogs, describing possible causes, how Bipolar Disorder can affect individuals and the people around them, and how it can be treated and managed. 

I strongly believe there is no one-size-fits all approach to managing any kind of mental health condition. It is the main reason why I am not a massive advocate of medication.  I prefer to consider natural, healthy ways to recognise and manage any kind of mental ill health, tailoring each treatment and therapy to suit each individual. I do this from experience.  It is what helped me which is why I believe it can help others too.

The feelings an individual may have when experiencing bipolar disorder.

The feelings can vary depending on whether the individual is having a manic or depressive episode.

One bipolar individual said people do not understand you are an unwilling rider on an emotional rollercoaster.

People can easily get angry and irritated when having an episode and can yell or cry at the smallest things. Sometimes they get upset when things are not going how they want. Then, the individual can feel extreme guilt when the episode is over.

Some people can think the individual is quite laid back and easy going when in fact they are feeling like giving up and may have feelings of paranoia and nervousness,

Sometimes the individual does not even have the strength to shower, clean, eat or talk when in a depressive episode. This can be when other people think the individual is being lazy.

The person could also be irrational, ranting and acting foolish knowing it and feeling frustrated at not being able to stop it.

The ways bipolar disorder affects the individual and their life.

It can be described as fatigue, insomnia, self-medication, avoidance, bursts of energy or happiness, talking too much, talking too little because thoughts are so loud, impulsivity, hypersexuality, insomnia and so the cycle continues.

It appears many creative people can have Bipolar. People can work for days on end with no sleep and get irritable if not able to work. When the manic episode stops, so does the creativity and work. Sometimes work projects are then left unfinished which can cause arguments with others.

When things are getting bad, the person with Bipolars stops talking and push others away so they don’t see the ugly side of them. Even talking can be a massive task that seems impossible. This can ruin friendships and relationships because of this and then when the individual is better, they don’t know how to apologise.

One individual said they listen to everyone so they do not experience the loneliness that people with bipolar can suffer.

Sometimes, bipolar individuals can fantasise about suicide because they feel it helps them get through the mixed emotions they are experiencing.

Other people think the individual is laid back when really, they have given up on everything or are paranoid and nervous. This can lead to self-sabotage and negative thoughts.

When an individual has a manic episode and they know they are being irrational, they tend to take their irrational behaviour out on those closest to them, This can cause people to think they have bad tempers.

People can struggle to cope with the more than one stressor and have feelings of overwhelm.

Being diagnosed with bipolar means DVLA will be informed. If this increases the risk of someone losing their licence, it could affect their ability to work causing further bipolar symptoms and more far-reaching effects.

How an individual’s bipolar disorder may affect others.

People see those with Bipolar as either up or down, manic or depressed.
People can be pushed away by the person with Bipolar and because of the hurt they may feel they have caused; they do not always know how to apologise. if the people connected to the individual do not understand this, they can allow the friendship and relationship to break down, often not knowing what to do for the best.
People do not understand how the bipolar individual feels fatigued and exhausted and how they must catch up with sleep. It is easy to be judgemental and refer to individuals as lazy.
Other people do not know how to manage and handle the irrational behaviours which appear to be bouts of bad temper by the bipolar individual.
They cannot relax or feel at ease, often because they do not know when the bipolar individual can have an extreme reaction to something said or done.
People can be confused about how a bipolar individual can say yes to one thing one day, and no the next, which can lead to arguments.
Ultimately, people around the bipolar individual can feel overwhelmed themselves. They can feel helpless and frightened not knowing how to cope with either the manic out of control episodes or the really low depressed, suicidal thoughts episodes.

The demands of daily life that may influence symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Generally. people having any form of mental ill-health cannot always cope with everyday life as well as others. On the whole, life tends to have a daily routine of sleep, work/life, eat, sleep, repeat but with bipolar, life is not always like this, with days of hyper-activity and no sleep, followed by bouts of deep depression. This means that the expected norms of everyday life cannot be met.
General life stressors of relationships, work, living and financial concerns can cause symptoms as described below.

How the demands of daily life may influence symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder can cause exaggerated relationship problems, which can cause further confusion, frustration, anxiety and depression for the bipolar individual, as well as those around them.
Work and general day to day living can be difficult due to either manic or depressive episodes. Increased or reduced focus and concentration can make both life and work difficult. This can cause added stress, pressure and increase feelings of isolation, worthlessness etc, helping to influence the spiral of bipolar episodes.
Financial concerns can be exasperated if manic episodes have resulted in out of control spending.
Either one, or more, of the above, can help towards the individual struggling to cope.
People have described how they are always having to smile to hide the pain, and
often feel they have to try harder to be perfect, so that no-one sees their bipolar.

The next blog will continue with how bipolar disorder can be treated and managed.

Tracey of PlumEssence Therapies and Training is a qualified stress management consultant, mental health first aider, clinical hypnotherapist and body work therapist focusing on helping reduce and alleviate concerns connected to both physical and emotional wellbeing.  Tracey is also a teacher and trainer, delivering workshops and accredited mental health courses.

Tracey is available for a no-obligation chat to see how we could work together on 01889 808388 or